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Voices: ‘A Black woman on a really white campus’

Antonette Gichohu

Antonette Gichohu is a senior studying computer science at the University of Kansas.

Voices is a Q&A section for students from underrepresented backgrounds to discuss their experiences at the University of Kansas.

Antonette Gichohu is a senior studying computer science at the University of Kansas. She is one of the few Black women studying this field in the School of Engineering.

Antonette Gichohu Voices

Gichohu, one of the few Black women studying computer science at the University, discusses her experience being a woman of color in STEM at KU.

I came to KU because it was close to home and it seemed to be the best option for what I wanted to do.

As a Black woman on a really white campus and in an even whiter major, it’s definitely weird. I would love to go to all the National Society of Black Engineers meetings, or like literally anything, but I don’t know how to make that intro. That’s been really strange. 

If I literally make any mistake, look dumb, or show I don’t understand what’s going on, it reflects on all Black women, because I’m the only Black woman a lot of my peers see right now. It’s often a lot of pressure. Whenever someone disrespects me or dismisses me, I can never be like, “Oh, is that because I’m a Black woman or because you’re an ass?” It’s just things like that. I’m sure everyone is going through it. 

I competed for the Self program, which is engineering’s equivalent of a fellowship. It’s kind of prestigious. I remember I was competing against my [white] friend who was considered a “shoe-in.” I got an interview and he didn’t. I told him I was sorry, because I didn’t really know what else to say. He told another friend he thought I took his spot in the interviews. It was one of my first experiences where it was not people thinking I was stupid. It was that, despite the fact that I’ve proven myself, people thought I just got it because I was Black and I was being tokenized. That was my first realization that no matter what I do, I’m going to be fought against. I think the only thing they want me to be is stupid, so it fits into whatever they think of me already. 

I love clubs like Women in STEM. Every time I have felt understood, it’s been by another woman in computer science. 

I was in this class that I hated and I felt so stupid. I was talking to this girl who always seemed to be doing really well since she was always answering questions in class. She seemed like the person who had it together. I asked her how she felt about it, and she told me she freaking hated it. She said, “I don’t understand what’s going on. I think [the professor] goes too fast.” Literally three weeks of frustration I had built up went away because I talked to one woman. I talked to, like, eight million dudes and they always said, “Oh I finished that assignment in like an hour,” which I never got. 

Sometimes people tend to over explain to me whenever I ask a question about an assignment. When I was in Calculus III my freshman year, that was one of the biggest problems I had. I asked my friend Rama a question I had, and she said exactly what needed to be said. It took five minutes. Women just get each other.

I sit in some of my classes and think about how I couldn’t professionally work in an environment like this. The other day in class someone crossed their arms in an X-formation across their chest during class. I said, “Wakanda forever,” and they didn’t get it. 

I really like computer science, but it’s so marketed for the stereotypical “awkward white man” like you see in movies. I think I’m going to find a Black-owned company to work for in the future. 

If you or someone you know would like to be featured in "Voices", email us (chalkeditor@kansan.com) or send us a message on Instagram (@chalkmagazine). 

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Person 2: Your mom slaps.

Person 1: Thank you, my mom is a kind and wonderful lady.


 Person 1: I’m so sick of alcohol.

Person 2: I don’t know, I’m getting stronger every day. I love it.


Person 1: Do you do the vegan wrap here?

Person 2: We can do the chicken wrap with no cheese?

Person 1: I’ll take the Beyond Burger please. 


Person 1: Oh my God! I feel like I know you somehow…

Person 2: Yeah, we went to high school together. 

Person 1: Oh! *walks off*


Guy 1: Is the black market even real? Has anyone ever been on it?

Guy 2: I tried once but I couldn’t figure out how to get on.


Guy 1: I stayed up until 2 am watching Disney plus

Guy 2: I told my girlfriend I fell asleep but I was actually watching the Mandalorian.


Girl 1: How long have you guys been dating?

Girl 2: Since the summer, well actually for like two years but it’s a long story.


Girl 1: Who are you looking for?

Girl 2: This guy, wait I found him. Fanny pack boy. He flipped off my professor after a test and ran out of the classroom.


Girl 1: How did you choose KU? 

Girl 2: Honestly, I flipped a coin. 


Boy 1: Did I tell you? I think I had a threesome this weekend.

Boy 2: Woah, hold up. You think?


Boy 1: I was born a Phi Delt.

Boy 2: Please don’t ever say that again.


Girl 1: How do you get your boobs to look like that?

Girl 2: I don’t ever wear a bra? I don’t know. 


Girl 1: I just really want a guy to bend me over you know?

Girl 2: How do you know? You’re a virgin!


Guy: Sometimes I wish I could just be a dog and sleep all day. 

Girl: You wake up at like three every day. 

Guy: I know.

Girl: So…

Guy: So does that make me a dog or something?


Girl 1: I wish I was a little bit taller.

Girl 2: I wish I was balder.

Girl 1: I wish I had a...wait, wait, wait balder?


Guy 1: Let’s slap dicks

Guy 2: You ever pee and it feels like throwing up?


Woman 1: *holding baby* He would have been safer at the Hawk

Woman 2: Oh absolutely.


Girl 1: I would never date that guy.

Girl 2: Well, it depends how much money he has.


Girl 1: I’m going to the doctor to see if I have bronchitis before I hook up with him again.

Girl 2: Yeah that’s smart so you don’t give it to anyone else. 

Girl 1: No I mean I want to make sure I infect him.


Guy 1: I'm cutting some of my unnecessary costs, starting with Juuling.

Guy 2: Ight man, good luck.

Guy 1: Actually I might just start chewing


Guy 1: How was work?

Guy 2: My manager was chastising me for not dressing up in a Halloween costume, she doesn’t understand I’m strictly here to get paid.


Guy 1: I am so tired of this week, man

Guy 2: Dude it’s Monday

Guy 1: I know


Person#1: I want to be on the first ship to mars

Person#2: Not me, I doubt they have Wi-Fi

Perons#1: Yeah but at least they’re evolving up there. We’re all just devolving.


Girl 1: Um, I don’t eat pig.

Girl 2: You eat bacon all the time, bitch.


Guy 1: You better get going. 

Guy 2: Yeah, see ya. I’m off to get some Adderall.


Girl 1: Are you home right now?

Girl 2: Yeah, why?

Girl 1: I bought a cat


Girl 1: I just don't understand what fishing is for.

Girl 2: I don't know. Food, maybe?


Guy: I’m just gonna have to like carry an entire box of spiders up the hill tomorrow.

Girl: What?

Guy: Yeah, just like a hundred spiders in a box.


Guy 1: Sometimes ya just gotta give yourself a haircut.

Guy 2: Dude, you shaved half your head. That’s not a haircut, that’s a mess.


Girl 1: Can you eat fruit raw?

Girl 2: How else are you supposed to eat it?


Girl: That class is killing us. ​But they say rest is for the dead.

Guy: Well, at least we'll be rested.


Girl: She's not in class this semester

Guy: Maybe she's dead

Girl: Or studying abroad